If they were in a cornfield, I’d be freaked out right now.

Theatrical Release Date: 09/20/2012 (Australia), 02/08/2013 (limited USA)
Director: Cate Shortland
Cast: Saskia Rosendahl, Nele Trebs, André Frid, Mika Seidel, Kai-Peter Malina, Nick Holaschke, Ursina Lardi
Rated: Not Rated by MPAA
Runtime: 1 hour, 49 minutes


Your shortcut through these woods sucks.

There are a plethora of movies about WWII and the Holocaust but not too many that look at what happened to the German people directly after the country had been split into four occupational zones as part of the Potsdam Conference. Based on a section from the novel The Dark Room by Rachel Seiffert, Lore does exactly that. Director and co-screenwriter Cate Shortland tackled the project and ended up making one of the more fascinating examinations of the period.

Part of that is due to the focus on a young German girl forced to march her younger siblings across the countryside to find refuge at their grandmother’s house after their parents are taken in for war crimes. That’s quite a compelling setup and thankfully everyone involved is up to the task. As with her previous (and debut) feature film, Somersault, Shortland’s keen eye is able to capture so much beauty – even amidst so much ugliness. She creates such an intimate space and manages to evoke raw and sincere performances out of relatively inexperienced actors (I consider her work with Abbie Cornish and Sam Worthington on Somersault to be what propelled them into the limelight).

The actors are all excellent, most notably Saskia Rosendahl as Lore and Kai-Peter Malina as a mysterious stranger they meet along the way whose intentions aren’t immediately clear. There’s a palpable tension between them that fluctuates as the situation dictates. They also work so well with the younger actors playing Lore’s siblings. The majority of the movie is centered on these five characters and had anyone faltered, it could have made watching them on their journey as difficult as the task itself.

If there were any warning I might give it would be that some may find Shortland’s use of close-ups and fascination with juxtaposing landscape with the emotional state of Lore not to their taste. There are definitely those who prefer a more objective directorial style but I tend to prefer being immersed in the perspective of the protagonist and that’s what you’re going to get from both of her films.

So if you won’t be put off by that style and are interested in an often unexamined side of WWII, go out and find Lore – if not at a theater near you then in the home market. As for me, I’m going to hope that there’s another Cate Shortland movie on the horizon sometime soon. I don’t need her emulating Terrence Malick both in some of her directorial proclivities and in how prolific she is in presenting films to the world.

3.5 out of 5